A good summer bite should lead to a super fall
This summer wasn’t exactly an epic one for south Louisiana speckled trout anglers, but that’s actually great news for those who want to target their favorite fish close to home in November.
Many days in June and July, persistent west winds prevented anglers from accessing the fish-rich spawning grounds, so the preponderance of specks that were out there weren’t caught and are still swimming and pumping water through their gills as you read this in the heart of the autumn run.
That blitz of action always takes place in inside waters — the lakes, ponds and bayous that offer more shrimp and baitfish than a bazillion trout could eat in a year. And for whatever reason, the run this year began earlier than usual.
Back in mid-August, anglers started reporting speckled trout catches in interior marshes, at least a month before they usually show up, and as the weeks have moved along, the number of inside fish has continued to increase.
I’ve been the beneficiary of that for months now, especially on a recent venture into the marsh, when I was hunting for whatever would bite but found far more speckled trout than anything else.
Best of all, the fish were keepers, with every one clearing Louisiana’s generous 12-inch size minimum.
Great search bait
I used one particular lure to find them, and it’s one that almost no one thinks of as a speckled trout producer — an H&H gold No. 4 spinner teamed with a ¼-ounce Deathgrip Jighead and a shrimp creole-colored Matrix Shad. That’s normally a staple for me on bass and redfish trips, but for whatever reason, the combo has been a deadly search bait this year for speckled trout.
As with all my trips this fall, once I located the school with the spinner, I switched over to another combo that’s more effective for boating good numbers of eating-sized specks. On my first cast with a red ice-colored TKO Shrimp under a Versamaxx Bolt Pro-Series, my cork plunged. I eventually had to reposition the boat to present the lure most effectively, but once I did, specks flew over the gunwale on almost every cast.
As has been the case recently, I found the fish in a bayou leading from the outside to the inside. Some will likely still be there this month, but November is usually when the fish become entrenched in their fall patterns.
And that means hitting oyster reefs or grass beds in interior lakes with topwaters, jerkbaits, paddletail soft-plastics or cork-suspended live or artificial shrimp.
Exactly where the fish will be thickest depends on bait migrations, which can be kind of random. You really have to go hunting to find which lakes and bays are best in any particular fall.
But that’s half the fun.
Don’t slow down
Until they locate the schools, anglers should fish this month like their pants are on fire, using the wind and their trolling motors to push them over oyster beds or within casting distance of grass beds in lakes with good clarity. They should focus on those near bayou mouths if the tide is falling. Autumn tides push and pull white shrimp from backwater marshes, and speckled trout get fat mauling the hapless crustaceans at the mouths of bayous on a falling tide.
Fifteen minutes is long enough to see if there are feeding fish in that area. If nobody’s home, the whole Louisiana marsh is available as an alternative.
Some days, winds are too strong or tides are too meager to get on a good bite, but on all the other days, fast action is a reasonable expectation. There really isn’t a better time to be a speckled trout angler in Sportsman’s Paradise.
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